In February 2012, the Exeter Classics department ran a trial which modernised the advice of Galen, the 2nd Century AD doctor, on preventive health. A booklet was devised, based on Galen’s Work On Looking After Your Health, which was followed by 45 participants, from both within and outside the university. These participants were given advice on the six primary factors: food & drink; exercise; sleep; environment; mental wellbeing and balance, and logged their overall, physical and mental wellbeing for a two-week period. At the same time, a control group continued their normal lifestyle.
The results were very promising. For example, the average overall rating participants gave the trial was 8 (out of 10), with an average perceived wellbeing improvement of nearly 7. Here is a graph which compares the overall wellbeing improvement amongst the Galen group with that of the control:
For full details, you can read the full the report of the trial. You can also read both the original booklet, containing Galen’s advice for a modern-day audience, and you can also see the original blog where participants posted their thoughts on the experiment on a day by day basis.
The Galen Project is now moving into a particularly exciting phase, and is being further improved by an interdisciplinary team, with the aim of conducting a large scale trial in the general public. Watch this space for more details.